Tuesday, February 22, 2011

NBA Midseason Report

Every time I make a post it comes with a comment about how I never write anything anymore, and how I promise to get back into it. Not this time.

First I'll do my East and West all-star teams, w/ brief explanations on my differences.

Eastern Conference
Derrick Rose
Dwyane Wade
LeBron James
Amar'e Stoudemire
Dwight Howard

Rajon Rondo
*Raymond Felton
*John Wall
*Josh Smith
Paul Pierce
Kevin Garnett
Al Horford

Outside of those top six players, the East is entirely unimpressive and difficult to differentiate. Even so, Ray Allen and Chris Bosh had no business near LA. Felton had some huge games for the Knicks and there's no question that he should've made it. Wall hasn't been other-worldly like I hoped, but he's still averaging 9 assists per game and has had some impressive moments for a terrible Wizards team. Homer pick, sure, but who wouldn't want to see him in an all-star game (as evidenced by his 22-assist performance in the Rookie-Sophmore game).

Western Conference
Chris Paul
Kobe Bryant
Kevin Durant
Blake Griffin
Pau Gasol

Russell Westbrook
*Monta Ellis
Deron Williams
*Rudy Gay
Kevin Love
Dirk Nowitzki
*LaMarcus Aldridge

Tim Duncan... come on, Pop. You know how far down the list of Western Conference scorers you have to go to find Tim Duncan? #43. Right behind Beno Udrih. People take Beno to prevent gas. Meanwhile, Portland is eight games above .500 entirely because LaMarcus Aldridge has taken it upon himself to finally play like a grown man. I took 'Melo off the list because he's tanked his way out of Denver (he's just that good that he can still score 25/game), and I threw in Monta Ellis because he just looks like a better player now. Don't get me wrong, he's still a gunner, but he's much more refined now. Also, Rudy Gay deserves more credit than he'll probably ever get.

Look Ahead

I'll start with the 'Melo deal. Sorry, Knicks fans, but this will never work. It just won't. And more than anything, because it has Isiah Thomas' aura attached to the whole thing. If Donnie Walsh had made his own decision to give up everyone but Amar'e in the deal I'd be more confident. Sucks to see a franchise like the Knicks do some stupid shit like this. Let's all be real for a second: the moment the next free agency period begins was the absolute last moment that Carmelo Anthony was going to become a Knick. He wasn't going to Houston. He wasn't going to New Jersey. He was always going to be a New York Knick. He doesn't make this team a championship contender this year, so why give up what would've been his entire supporting cast?

They will be fun to watch, though. No doubt about that. And unquestionably, at least to my mind, they are a better team today than they were two days ago. Wilson Chandler is a nice player and Galinari sometimes is. Felton-Billups is probably a wash at this point, except Felton is having the best year of his career and Billups is 34. And I don't understand the hubbub over Blake Griffin launching-pad Timofey Mozgov. What they get is a player in Carmelo Anthony who, when he wants to be, is still a top-10 player in the league (I have eight others definitely on my list, in no order: LeBron, Kobe, Durant, Rose, CP3, Dwight, Wade, Deron Williams). And he wants to play in New York. With Amar'e also there, who is on a short list for that last spot on my top-10, you're going to have a formidable team. Having two players who command as much defensive attention as those two guys automatically opens the court for the rest of the team. It's just too bad that they don't really have much in the way of 'rest of the team,' and they might now be even WORSE defensively.

(I broke my own rule and read Bill Simmons' trade value column He commented on Amar'e's knee, playing time, and declining production. I don't know if there's any validity to the inevitability of Amar'e breaking down, but I'm going to keep an eye on it for sure.)

I'm also a little surprised that there was never any talk of Ricky Rubio. This would've been a relatively quiet way for Minnesota to get past the inevitable embarrassment that'll come with Rubio finally deciding to come to the NBA and still avoiding the Wolves like the plague. And it'd give the Knicks a bargain for their point guard of the future, instead of waiting a couple years to find out they can't afford Chris Paul or Deron Williams. And they'd be better off with Rubio and Dwight Howard anyway, considering Dwight can make a team with Hedo Turkoglu and Rashard Lewis starting at the forward spots a defensive powerhouse worthy of an NBA Finals trip.

Lost in all this is Ty Lawson, who not only loses the perfect mentor in Chauncey Billups but is also now stuck behind Felton for 3+ years. Chapel Hill is happy, at least (actually, the six people who actually follow their players after they leave campus).


DERRICK ROSE. Told you he was gonna be an MVP candidate, and right now, based on what I've seen, he's EASILY the MVP of the league. 22-8 without Joakim Noah, 11-7 without Carlos Boozer, and 2-1 without both. Which leads me to point out that after losing the first two games in which all three played together, they reeled off seven straight wins before Noah was shelved. Noah is slated to return on Wednesday, and after a brief adjustment period I fully expect the Bulls to be a force to be reckoned with. They probably need a shooting guard in order for me to call them a true championship contender, though. Talks of JR Smith (NO) and Courtney Lee (meh) have surfaced, but there really isn't a viable option out there. OJ Mayo's name was mentioned and Memphis shot that down immediately, but I'd love to see that happen. I don't see how it could, but a Rose-Mayo backcourt? Goodness.


The Lakers are still winning the championship, get over it. They should go after Felton and seal the deal. And speaking of LA, I wonder how Donald Sterling is gonna fuck all this up. Blake Griffin and Eric Gordon are bona fide stars, and they have a ton of young talent AND cap space, especially when they have Chris Kaman's expiring deal to work with after this year is finished. Seems like they're building up for a MAJOR collapse.

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